Monday, 25 June 2012

Fake fundraisers - frustrating and fury-inducing

There are so many rules in this life – written and unwritten. If you use every plate in the kitchen you wash them up, you don’t walk out of the supermarket without paying, you shouldn’t queue jump and you should give up your seat for the elderly.  And if you commit to a fundraising target and sign a form to say you are going to raise £X, hundreds, thousands of pounds you do!

BUT it seems that so many people don’t see this as a rule that they need to adhere to and it’s a continual frustration for fundraising managers up and down the country.

Maybe I'm being harsh, but when someone writes on their registration form that ‘I have a large circle of friends, attend a church with a charitable congregation, work for a Top 100 company with 500 employees, and are holding a senior management job’ surely this means that somehow, one way or the other you have the potential to raise the cash? 

In so many cases it seems not.

Excuses, excuses

This year we’ve had a number of people not fundraise for the London Marathon. Excuses have ranged from ‘I lost my job’ to ‘I didn’t think I needed to raise so much,’ through to no excuse at all. Some and runners have simply disappeared without trace!  One of my runners has even gone so far as to change his mobile number.

It’s upsetting that after months of nurturing a relationship someone decides that they no longer want to communicate with you and that their enthusiasm for supporting your charity has gone. They’ve realised that they are too lazy, too busy or too selfish to complete their end of the bargain. And worst of all they are going to lie to you or ignore you forever more.  You are left with a bitter taste in your mouth and a less than healthy income line. 

So what can we do to avoid lost income?
  • Keep emailing, keep calling? I usually take this approach and sometimes I get a response – sometimes good, sometimes bad. But what if I get nothing in return? 
  •  Get my manager to write – a few guilt inducing words should surely do the trick? No? 
  •  If they don’t then I would ask my CEO to write.

And if this doesn’t work it is time to move on and accept it. 

Sadly there are people out there who will not give you or your charity a second thought. They will not feel a sense of guilt and they will not let it keep them awake at night. You need to do the same and make sure that you protect yourself in the future. 

Always be sure to keep on top of your fundraisers. Call them regularly, talk to them on email and question their fundraising plans. If they sound non committal ask them to be honest with you and explain that their place in the run/swim/cycle is invaluable to you. 

There are always going to be a few people that let you down, but the vast majority will outshine any disappointment. The ones who raise far more than they expected, those who continue to tell everyone about your cause long after their event, and those who feel guilty for not raising more when they have already surpassed the target. 

These are the people worth concentrating on and these are the ones who will shine out in my mind. 

Sarah Brett
Community & Challenge Event Fundraising Manager

Friday, 8 June 2012

I wish I’d thought of that

I wish I’d thought of that (or as the cool kids of twitter call it: #iwitot), was a fundraising conference in which the movers and shakers of the fundraising world discussed the best fundraising idea they wish they’d thought of. 

Simple, great, easy – I’ll be honest – I wish I’d thought of it. 

Each speaker had 5 minutes each to talk about something they had seen in fundraising, explain it and review it. Some of it was really inspiring (e.g. the Great Ormond Street Hospital pack), some of it was fun (e.g. Movember and the stick on moustaches) some of it thought provoking (Amnesty, MND) some of it was brilliantly presented (Imogen Ward and Adopt-a-Word), and some of it less so (but as if charity chicks would be that cruel).

I was also really pleased to see Liz Tait giving street fundraisers the praise they deserve – as many of us in fundraising know but don’t say, they really are heroes in our sector. 

I was less pleased to see ‘Barbie, it’s over’. Not because I was happy for Mattel to destroy the rainforest, but because it wasn’t fundraising. It was a great, exciting, innovative campaign for policy change. And hugely success at policy change it was. 

But this was supposed to be about fundraising and I saw no fundraising ask when the campaign was live and no fundraising results in the presentation. 

Rather cleverly at the end, we were asked to vote for which idea we had liked best. I say rather cleverly, because we voted by text and this means SOFII has our phone numbers now. And as all good fundraisers do as soon as they see a phone number, they plan to phone it and ask everyone for a direct debit.  

I like SOFII. I think it does a really important function. I think it is good to pat ourselves on the back sometimes and good to share ideas. If they ring, I will probably give a direct debit. 

I do however (for what it is worth) have some feedback on the event. In no particular order:

  • Would have loved a cup of tea on arrival (will perhaps restrict my donation to tea and coffee supplies)
  • They were quite heavy on the agency speakers. Now, I am not going to knock agencies but I do sometimes wonder why so many of them speak at fundraising conferences. Fundraisers are not known for their shyness and it would have been nicer to see 'less agency, more charity' up there. As a sector we need to get our own voice out there more and put ourselves forward for these kind of events
  •  It would have been good to have seen more actual results. As we all know, just because something looks great, doesn’t mean it works. I would love to know if anyone was sat there quietly squirming as their total fundraising flop was hailed as the next big thing
  • It felt very Individual Giving focused. Has no one done a major donor appeal, corporate partnership or big event that some wished they had thought of? 
  • They should probably get a new doopher (sorry – little in joke for anyone there)

These aside, I think it was a great success and I really enjoyed it. Lots to take away and think about. And was really pleased to see it was only £25 or £50 (depending on size of organisation and membership to SOFII). Too many conferences are out of reach of charities on small budgets so it was good to see that this was was affordable to everyone. 

One of the big themes that kept occurring was to ‘tell your need truthfully.’ And seeing all these great fundraising ideas up on stage you really could see that. 

The ones that worked the best were all from the heart. And nobody should be saying ‘I wish I’d thought of that’ as every bit of fundraising you do you should have thought of that!